British visual artist Emma Prempeh, of Ghanian and Vincentian heritage, (b.1996, London) is a graduate of Fine Arts from Goldsmiths University. Prempeh’s debut solo show The Faces of Love is the culmination of a 2-month residency at V.O Curations. Prempeh has been shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2019 and is the winner of the Ingram Young Contemporary Talent Purchase Prize.
Emma Prempeh Install, Bereaved, Forgetting, 2020 © Emma Prempeh Courtesy V.O Curations
The Faces of Love encompasses the variegated understanding of the concept of ‘love’ through the lens of the artist’s phases of life. Comprised of various facets, ‘love’ unravels sentiments of loneliness, excitement, death and melancholy, highlighting familial ties, friendships and past lovers. Through the search of spirituality, Prempeh analyses existential questions that are projected upon her reality; the fear of death, memory, ancestral ties.
Emma Prempeh Install, Hindsight, Windows of Emotion, 2020 © Emma Prempeh Courtesy V.O Curations
Dark, earthy tones on the canvas carve out a space for the figures to rest, unidentifiable, in a temporal and spatial hole. Physical limitations are not present, no walls or lines to define the area and the figures are free to roam the space they inhabit. Prempeh plays upon the notion of distant memories, creating ubiquitous spaces that evoke a feeling of longing and safety. Faces and figures are slightly delineated, playing into the mystification of memory and the effects of a questioned reality. The only figures that appear in stark contrast, strikingly visual and precisely outlined, are those Prempeh relates to more closely; herself, her mother and grandmother.
Emma Prempeh, Hindsight, 2020 © Emma Prempeh Courtesy V.O Curations
Imitation gold leaf can be glimpsed on the canvas surface of the majority of Prempeh’s work; it is a signifier of the inevitable and ineluctable passing of time. Applied only on certain figures, it symbolises a memory, a presence that is no longer physically present but represents a strong connection for Prempeh. Over time, the material deteriorates, similarly to the deterioration of memory and people who have passed away. Prempeh’s work o en includes the use of fabric as a way to transfer the surface onto a more physical, three-dimensional state, as well as print, taken from her diary or other materials, enhancing the image’s emotional charge. Windows Of Emotion exemplifies Prempeh’s use of fabric and words in the context of self-identification and definition, as the artist portrays herself surrounded by books and a white fabric covered in entries from her personal diary.
Emma Prempeh, Windows of Emotion, 2020 © Emma Prempeh Courtesy V.O Curations
‘The Faces of Love’ runs 13th October to 14th November 2020 Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 11am to 5pm, by appointment Location: V.O Studios, 242 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 6JQ
V.O Curations is a contemporary gallery, residency and studio programme based in London, founded in 2018 by Zina Vieille and Nnamdi Obiekwe. It positions itself at the intersection of artist and institution, providing resourceful and supportive environments filled with various opportunities. Their new facility, 242 Marylebone, launched in December 2019 as Central London’s largest artist facility, hosts up to 100 studios, and expanded in May 2020 to encompass more than 150 artists. vocurations.com